mikerr wrote:Even 2GB deosn't have too much free space on the existing distributions,
and fills up quite quickly I find - my main SD cards for Pi use are 8GB
Problem is I have plenty of 2GB cards (and smaller) - I should get around to doing a cut down image - is there one available already ?
Here's the thing: Doing it "straight" is at least theoretically possibly in your case, using a 2G card. In the OP's case, however, it is not even theoretically possible, since he was talking about using a 512M card. On a 2G card, it "should" fit, but apparently some people's idea of what 2G means is not the same as other people's idea and, as a result, it sometimes doesn't fit.
Now, back to the OP's case - how to utilize a 512M card. There are, of course, two possibilities:
1) Create a cut-down image from scratch that does everything you need and is less than 512M in size. This shouldn't be inordinately difficult, but it is obviously outside the remit of a beginner help oriented forum. I.e., people here will probably not be able to help much beyond wishing you luck.
2) Split one of the "supported" images between the SD card and external USB storage. There are lots of threads on this topic - again, it's not particularly difficult, but is again outside the remit of a "total beginner" forum. FWIW, the nice thing about going this route is that you don't have to "muck up" your SD card. And by "muck up", I mean the repartitioning and changing to weird (heh heh) non-Microsoft-supported filesystems - that the usual "write the image to the card" process does (albeit under the covers and without requiring you to know/understand/execute the process).
What all this means is that all you need to do is copy files to the card; no repartitioning or filesystem changing is needed. And the nice thing about doing this is that you do get a bootable system - albeit one that will soon kernel panic - but at least you get the equivalent of a BIOS.
And some folks need to stop being fanboys and see the forest behind the trees.
(One of the best lines I've seen on this board lately)